2012-04-19

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week In Review
Opening Night Recap – April 3, 2012
It didn’t take long for the 2012 season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs to kick into gear. In front of a solid crowd on Tuesday night, a field of seven pacers went to the gate in Race 1 for the first of about 1,900 races that Pocono will host from now to November.
What’s funny about it is that all of us who love the sport of harness racing spend lots of time looking forward to a new season, but it takes just a matter of moments for us to really get engrossed in it all over again. In this case, it took about 53:4 seconds, which is how long it took Midas Blue Chip to cover a half-mile of ground.
For those of you who might not be familiar with the sport, that is seriously fast, the kind of pace you would expect from a stakes race in the middle of summer. Instead, it came in the first division of five on the night for the Bobby Weiss series, an ongoing racing event scheduled in the month of April at Pocono to honor the longtime track superintendent who retired in the offseason.
So, while this was a good field of young pacers, it was not the kind of field, or the kind of night for that matter (somewhat chilly) to produce such fast fractions. So the logical conclusion that most racing fans would come up with is that the horse setting that pace, Midas Blue Chip, was bound to fade.
Only he didn’t. With Jim Morrill doing the driving, the gelding from the barn of Brian Seidel sustained all the way to the finish line for a thrilling victory in 1:52. And so, another racing season was off and rolling in impressive fashion.
As fast as that race was, however, things got even faster as the night progressed. Later on in the Weiss series, Social Network updated his status with a victory in 1:51:4. Following that up, Three Artist got a win a tick faster in 1;51:3, the night’s fastest time. It was a flying start to a series that should be fun to watch as the month rolls on.
It was also nice to see our old friends in the driving and training colony already in fine form as well. Matt Kakaley, the leading driver in victories at Pocono in 2011, got off to a quiet start, going winless in the first nine races. He more than made up for that though, winning four of the last five races on the program. Morrill added three wins while David Miller picked up a double. Familiar faces George Napolitano Jr., Anthony Napolitano, Mike Simons, Tony Schadel, and Ray Schnittker all notched driving wins as well. On the training side, Ron Burke and James McGuire each had doubles on Opening Night.
For the bettors, there were excellent opportunities to be had. Even though favorites came up with a solid winning percentage on the night, taking five of the fourteen races, a few mid-price horses spiced up the payouts. In the 6th, Chase The Sun snuck through the passing lane for a win at 6-1. In the next race, Girls Wiilb Girls put together a gutty effort to win on the front end at 7-1. Later on in the 9th, Showmeyourstuff was first-over for a good part of the mile but still scored at 6-1.
The exotic wagers were pretty lucrative as well, as Pocono inaugurated a 10-cent Superfecta wager in a few races. In one of those races, the 7-8-3-4 combination paid off a stunning $38,868.80. It’s not Powerball money, I admit, but it’s not bad for a $2 ticket.
By the time veteran Caerleon Hanover took the win in the 14th and final race, fans had witnessed several thrilling finishes and many outstanding performances. Not bad at all for an Opening Night, setting the tone for what should be another memorable season here at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
Remember that we race on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights in the early part of the season, with post time at 6:30 PM ET. Make sure to come out and join us.
Next week, we’ll have had a full schedule of racing under our belts by that time, which means we’ll had out the first edition of the Weekly Awards. Until then, we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.